States like Ohio Look to Kick Voters off the Rolls Simply for Not Voting
WASHINGTON – In a 5-4 ruling, the Supreme Court today ruled that Ohio may continue its troubling practice of purging voters off the voter rolls due to “inactivity.” The case was brought on behalf of the A. Philip Randolph Institute and a voter who was purged from the voter rolls despite living at the same address for 16 years. Advancement Project’s national office, which filed an amicus brief supporting APRI, and which was quoted by Justice Sonia Sotomayor, released the following statement:
“The practice of purging voters is a familiar method of restricting who gets to vote,” said Judith Browne Dianis, Executive Director of Advancement Project’s national office. “Based on our voting rights work in Ohio, we are not surprised that the state is adding hurdles to the ballot and shutting people out altogether. These practices, which hurt low-income voters and people of color in particular cannot be seen as isolated attacks on voting rights. Rather, they’re a deliberate effort by opponents of voting rights who want to turn back the clock to when people of color had less of a voice in society.”
“Voters in Ohio have consistently challenged barriers to voting, but these recent hostile attacks on voting rights have brought the fight front and center,” said Donita Judge, Senior Attorney and Co-Program Director for Power and Democracy at Advancement Project’s national office. “States that erect barriers to voting will have one more legal tool to unfairly silence the voices of some voters,” “This fight is far from over, and we will continue to partner with communities of color to challenge barriers that deny their right to vote. Until we achieve an affirmative right to vote for all people, we will remain active in our work with grassroots partners to take extra measures to overcome the new hurdles imposed by this ruling.”
“In this climate of aggressive moves to turn back the clock on civil and human rights, we can expect more decisions of this type from not only the Supreme Court but lower federal courts,” said Gilda Daniels, Director of Litigation at Advancement Project’s national office. “While this decision continues the battle on voting rights, we must recommit to winning the war and achieving free and fair elections that allow all persons to participate in the electoral process without fear of removal.”
In 2017, Advancement Project wrote an amicus brief in support of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the Ohio State Conference of the NAACP. This amicus brief served to look at the disproportionate impact of voter roll purges on communities of color through a racial analysis. Today, that amicus brief was cited by Justice Sonia Sotomayor in her dissent. Justice Sotomayor uses our brief to reinforce the fact that Ohio’s Supplemental Process disproportionately impacts low-income people, communities of color, the disabled, and veteran voters. She uses the example that we cited about Hamilton County, Ohio – in 2012, Black-majority neighborhoods in downtown Cincinnati had 10% of their voters removed for inactivity as compared to only 4% of voters in a suburban, majority-white neighborhood. It appears on pp. 18-19 of our amicus brief and on pg. 4 of her dissent.
Advancement Project is a multi-racial civil rights organization. Founded by a team of veteran civil rights lawyers in 1999, Advancement Project was created to develop and inspire community-based solutions based on the same high-quality legal analysis and public education campaigns that produced the landmark civil rights victories of earlier eras.